PISCATAWAY, NJ — Despite a narrow presidential bid and seeing all the deep divides in government and the nation in the past year, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains optimistic that many pressing issues will encourage more people to participate in public policy and upcoming elections.
Speaking before more than 5,000 people at Rutgers University on March 29, Clinton touched on a wide range of topics, including the influence of corporate donations on elections, the double standards for women candidates and politicians, and the influence of Russia on United States elections.
Referring to the February shooting at the high school in Parkland, Fla., the former presidential candidate said she was encouraged by the ongoing campaign that shooting survivors started, but stressed the need for others to get involved.
“I really hope this is a turning point,” Clinton said, referring to the upcoming 2018 midterm congressional elections. “Get out and vote, and advocate for others to vote. If we don’t change the people who make the decision, we can’t make change happen,” said Clinton, a former senator who represented New York for two terms.
The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers selected Clinton as this year’s Clifford P. Case Professor of Public Affairs speaker. To accommodate the large request for tickets to hear from the former First Lady, the university used the Rutgers Athletic Center, typically reserved for such grand gatherings as commencement.
During her comments, Clinton admitted that losing the 2016 presidential race to President Donald Trump was tough, saying there was a lot of finger-pointing and reflection afterward.
“I took a lot of long walks in the woods. I drank my share of chardonnay,” she said.
Yet when she finally began to speak out again, Clinton said, that reaction in the news was that she should “go away.”
“They never said that to any man who didn’t get elected,” she said, quickly referring to former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain.
Clinton referred to incidents of woman candidates and members of Congress who were urged to stop speaking, although they were doing nothing more than their male counterparts.
“It’s about time women are allowed to be themselves, as men are allowed to be themselves,” Clinton said, receiving a roar of approval from the crowd, as was noted by Eagleton Director Ruth Mandel.
“I think you have a few friends here,” said Mandel, who moderated the presentation by asking Clinton questions submitted by students.
Clinton said she was encouraged that woman and minorities are seeking office, but said many more are needed.